Amber Goes to Africa…TODAY!

When you read this, I’ll most likely be in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. Hopefully over it, not in it. I really don’t feel like blogging or writing. But i’m making myself do it. If I don’t, i’ll regret it. I want to document stuff I’m thinking and no I don’t want to write in a journal. I’m sitting in the Atlanta airport and trying to calm my anxiety. I think writing about it is the best way for me to cope right now. If I just sit around I’ll start getting sad.

Because what am I doing? How did I get here?

Yeah, I’m going to Uganda, I’d tell people. And it felt  just as if I was telling you I was going to the store. I had no clue what “going to Uganda” would entail. I have no clue.

I feel like I am walking into this whole thing so blind. We’ve had a conference call and yes, I’ve exchanged emails and texts about what to buy and what to bring and what to pack and what to expect. But it doesn’t seem real.

You see, this wasn’t a long planned out trip I’d had on the calendar last year. This just happened. In May. Going to Africa never really seemed like a possibility, and never my reality.

Ten days ago, we returned from a week long family trip to Oregon. Since the beginning of the summer, that trip was on the forefront of my mind. Africa was an after thought. So a week and a half ago, it kicked in. But for most of last week I was in denial. Honestly, I just didn’t want to think about it.

I didn’t want to think about being gone for 15 days. How I’d miss Meet-the-Teacher day or the first day of school. I didn’t want to think about my boys being sad. Or my girls needing to talk to me.

Sunday night Hayden was on call and I had promised my boys they could sleep with me since he was gone. As I went to kiss my youngest one, he grabbed my neck and whispered, “mommy, when you go to Afwica, I’m gonna miss you weally much.” Yeah, and then I cried.

boys in bed

The mommy guilt has been building the last few days. I’ve been so weepy every time I start thinking about being away from my kids. So like any guilty mother does, I took my kids to the mall (you do that too, right?). I bought them cookies and surprised them when we ended up in Build-a-Bear. I told them they could either pick a monkey or an elephant (because Africa) so that whenever they missed me, they could squeeze their little buddy. Lame, I know, but it made me feel better…a little.

But how sweet is this?

water the elephant

He named his elephant Water. Cause you know, elephants squirt water. Awesome 4 year old logic right there. And that picture really does make me feel better.

Last night was crazy. I didn’t sleep. I wasn’t the most productive either. I’ve been having a hard time going to be lately and so I just decided not to. Not sure if that was a good idea or not. Hopefully I’ll sleep on this first long flight.

I’m pretty sure I’m forgetting a few important things. I’m sure I didn’t pack some essential thing. I can’t think right now, so I’ll find out when I get there.

As Hayden drove up to the airport this morning, my heart started tightening. I kept my sunglasses on to hide the tears welling up. Am I really doing this? Am I really leaving my family for 2 weeks? Who does that?

I do. And i know this trip will be all sorts of amazing and happy and sad and unbelievable. I’ll try to capture what I can. I’ll make myself write even if I don’t feel like it. And here’s my most favorite advice from a sweet friend who has been to Uganda multiple times.

sarah's advice


My plane is boarding in 15 min. Gotta run y’all. See you in Africa!!

family photo card

Amina iso ijo is We Love You in Ateso.

And just so we don’t leave this on such a serious note… this is the family I love and adore and will miss dearly. They crack me up.

cracy family

Posted in Africa, My Life, Unconventional Life | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Amber Goes to Africa: The 411

It’s true. I’m going.

To Africa.

Crazy, right?

I leave in 5 days. Holy moly. {deep breaths}

morning what

I have been planning on writing and telling you all about it. But you know how well I think about things, then never do them. But my girls are gone and my boys are being babysat by the TV (mother of the year!), there is no excuse not to write.

When people find out I’m going, everyone asks the sames things – Where are you going? What will you be doing? Who are you going with? Why or what made you ant to go? How long will you be there? And heck, I’d want to know that stuff too.

So here ya go. The 411 about my trip…or at least as much as I know.

1) Where are you going:  I am going to Uganda. Specifically to the area of Soroti. At some point we will go on a safari (what?!) in Murchinson Falls National Park. Our last day will be spent in Jinja.



2) Who are you going with: No, I’m not going with a church. And no, this isn’t a “missions trip.”

You know that saying: Surround yourself with people you want to be like or who inspire you (or something like that)? Well, that’s what I’m doing. And crazy enough, it’s taking me to Africa.

So here’s a funny story. I met this girl on the internet, (don’t all good stories start that way?) on Facebook, through some mutual friends a year or so ago. She was raising money for trafficked girls through her org She’s Worth It. She raised a lot of money.

Then I saw her post about buying cows for some villages in Africa. She raised enough for the cows.

Then I saw her post about how she wanted to start retreats for women who run non-profits so they can take a break from serving on the front lines and be served. I thought that was a brilliant idea and I donated some of my cuffs for those ladies.

This girl kept on posting about needs and then those needs would be filled. She was full of life and seemed to have this crazy faith, even when she doubted things or wasn’t sure how she’d get stuff done. And on top of this, she has these 3 beautiful children. She’s a single mama who is living out life. She is Love Does.

Brandi is this girl’s name. And she is co-founder of Beauty For Ashes Uganda – the organization I am going with. You can read about her and how this little org was started and how it’s growing quickly and doing amazing things right here.

2) What will you be doing there: Beauty For Ashes Uganda (BFAU) is taking a team of 25 people. There are two different purposes for this trip.

The first is bringing along photographers & storytellers to visit the villages and gather photos and information for media/website/awareness purposes.

The second is partnering with Yobel International to give business training to some of the single mamas in the villages BFAU serves. They teach business training all around the world, specifically in impoverished areas.

For the first part of the trip, I will be in the business training group. I will be helping facilitate a table of 6-10 women from local villages and walking through the training with them. I think I am even going to be “teaching/leading” two sessions. Yikes.

After the first part (business training) we will go on safari. As fun as that sounds, I’m pretty freaked out about that part. I don’t want to be eaten by a hippo. I’m serious. I just want one for Christmas

After looking at animals in the wild, we will come back for the second half of our trip to a women’s conference for 1,500 single mamas & widows. And contrary to popular belief, I am not the headlining speaker ;)

Honestly, for the second part of the trip, I really don’t know what my “role/purpose” is, so, I’m going to secretly become one of the storytellers. Shhh….don’t tell anyone ;)

I don’t know what the conference is like and I’m not sure what I’m going to be doing there. I’m hoping I’ll at least get to dance. I’ll let you know.

After the conference, I think we visit some villages. But I’m not sure. This is where my secret storytelling role will come in to play. Shhh…

The last day of our trip we will stop through Jinja and visit two other organizations:  Sole Hope founded by Asher Collie and Amazima founded by Katie Davis. I’m super excited to see these in person & meet the amazing women behind them!

Why or what made you want to go: This is a long story and needs it’s own blog post.

How long will you be there: This is my least favorite one. I’ll be gone…for 15 days. I know. I know. Don’t even say it. I know it’s a long time. A long time to be away from my babies. I don’t like to think about it. I don’t want to talk about it.

Or the fact that I’ll miss Meet the Teacher Day (though secretly I’m Ok with this one as it’s the most stressful day at our school!). And I certainly do not want to talk about the fact I fly home the night of my kids’ first day of school (again, Mom of the Year right here).

There is a small village called My-Husband-Mother-In-Law-Dad-and-Mom that will be raising and taking care of my children in my absence. For that village, I am truly grateful. I am just hoping my kids do OK while I am away. Just typing this paragraph is making me cry. So I’ll stop. Let’s talk about something else.

MONKEYS! We get to eat breakfast with monkeys. True story. (Unless Brandi is lying to me.) Well, I guess we don’t really eat with them. I imagine they are like the pigeons we have here while dining out. Hovering around, trying to snatch nibbles. Now that I think about it like that, I’m not sure that sounds so fun. We’ll see.

Anyway, that’s all I got folks. I’ll know more when I get there. I’d love for you to come with me. Or at least follow along on this cray-cray adventure o’ mine.

You can check back here frequently or if you’d rather just open your email and see my updates, subscribe by putting your email in the little box in the upper right hand corner. My posts will pop up in your email. Easy. Done.

Or if you’re a ‘grammer (as in…INSTAgrammer), you can follow along in pictures. @AmberZaccagni is my username. You can also search the hashtags #AmberGoesToAfrica or #AmberInAfrica <— I like making up my own hashtags. It makes me feel important.

Twitter is @AmberZaccagni but I’m hardly over there.

Facebook is, well, it’s Facebook. Here’s my blog’s page over there.

Oh and follow @BeautyForAshesUganda on Instagram and also go like their Facebook page and follow the Twitter & Instagram hashtag #bfaUganda

5 days people. 5 days!!!! Lord, help me.

Posted in Africa, My Life, Unconventional Life | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

hi. it’s been a while.

What? A blog post after what, 7 months of silence?

I know. You’ve missed me and I’ve missed you and yada yada yada. Or maybe you didn’t miss me, but just shhh…keep it to yourself. We’ll just pretend.

So why am I showing up here on the interwebs again after all that time? Well, it’s simple: it’s 2am & I can’t sleep. I’m in a hotel room with 5 other people, four of them in sleeping bags on the floor. I’ve been tossing and turning and trying to ignore the snoring. I don’t have a book and I can’t watch anything after binge-watching Netflix…I had to stop cold turkey, there is no hope for me people. I blame Olivia Pope, Frank Underwood, and Jenny Lee. So there isn’t anything else for me to do but write.

So here I am. In the hotel lobby at 2:04 a.m.

I’ve thought about blogging again, many times, but then I never do. Starting is always the hardest part. I’ve probably written 500 posts in my head, but never put it to the keyboard. Well, here I am folks. Typing away in Atlanta, GA. Which by the way, had the most awesome beautiful sky tonight. We were eating at BurgerFi (holy cow! so good!) and out of the blue (literally) a big dark cloud rolled over and thundered and lightened and poured like crazy. I do love that about the south. Summer storms. Anyway, as the rain cleared, this appeared….

{insert pretty purple-y and pink sky picture, but computer isn’t downloading it so use your best imagination.} or go check my Instagram

I mean, right??!!!!

The picture doesn’t do it justice {remember, we’re pretending it’s there}. The rainbow was breathtaking and there was a faint one just above it. Everyone came out of the restaurant and whipped out their phones and snapped a pic. Then we all hustled back in to finish our trivia game.

Yes, you heard right. Trivia & burgers. i guess that’s a thing they do there on Thursday nights. I wasn’t going to participate in such silly games, but when the DJ said there were 3 prizes and only 2 teams were playing and all you had to do was be a breathing body and you’d win, I was all about trivia.

So Hayden and the kids and I all rallied together and named ourselves Team Zucchini, because, well, we just weren’t that creative. And let’s be honest, everyone thinks that’s our last name anyway.

Round one we finished strong… in third place. We missed one question.

Round two we finished… in third place. We missed two questions.

Round three we barely made it… in third place. I think we got one answer right.

Round four I stopped turning in our answers. We finished… in third place. But hey – $15 gift card to BurgerFi. Guess where we’re having lunch tomorrow?

I really did think we had a chance at second place when after round two, one of the questions we missed was “Who was the first person to break the sound barrier?” We wrote Maverick and thought we might get a little credit for the creativity. But no. Neither did our answer to “Name the largest bird in Northern America?” Big Bird, duh.

There really isn’t anything that makes you feel more stupid than trivia when everyone else seems to know the answers. C’mon though… can you tell me what form of currency Austria used before the euro? Or the type of alphabet used in russia & slovic countries? Or the name of the current leader of the Islamic nation? If you know any of these, then bravo to you… but at least Hayden didn’t know them either so I didn’t feel so bad. Now, if it were pop culture trivia…I would have beat out those other two teams hands down. Because clearly I keep up on the important facts of life.

Well my friends, I think I should go to bed now. This was fun. I kinda forgot how fun writing can be. But I won’t make any promises that I’ll do it again, because we know the second I promise something, I kill any chance of following through. So… until next time my friends….

Peace out.



Posted in My Life, Stuff & Nonsense | 4 Comments

“My Family Comes First” & Other Lies Doctors Tell Their Wife

“Liar liar, pants on fire!”

You have no idea how many times I have wanted to blurt that out over the years. Totally mature, I know. But honestly, over all these years, there have been numerous times when I have felt so defeated and so let down because of the little un-truths that were said.

Here are four little “lies” that consistently popped up…and still do (but now I know the truth behind them):

Lie #1: My family comes first.

Truth: Medicine is number one. I don’t get personal days or really even any sick days.  I would rather be at my son’s baseball or my daughter’s recital , but I just can’t. I can’t leave my critically ill patient, or in the middle of check out, or leave my team scrambling to cover for me.

Helpful Hint: This is especially true during med school, residency, & fellowship. Not only are they there to learn, but they are under so much pressure to perform and find favor with their attendings. It’s a tough road but the sooner you can accept the fact you will be carrying most of the responsibilities at home, the better. It’s not fair. It stinks. But that’s just how it is. 

Lie #2: I’ll be home soon…I’m leaving in 20 minutes.

Truth: I really have no idea when I am leaving the hospital but I feel guilty I’m not home yet, so I’ll tell you a time because that’s what I think you want to hear. And I really wish I can leave in 20 minutes, but I who am I kidding?

Helpful hint: I made the rule with my husband that he is not to call me until he is in the car on his way home or even better – about 5 minutes away. Seriously, this has prevented many arguments. 

Lie #3: Sure, honey, make those plans to go out with your friends next week…I’ll be home in time to put the kids to bed. You don’t need to call a babysitter. 

Truth: I really want to be home in time so you can go out and have a break, and I hope I actually am able to. But honestly, I have no control over those patients who get admitted at the very last minute or the surgery that lasts longer than planned or the emergency that popped up right as I’m supposed to be “off.”

Helpful hint: Call a sitter. Nine times out of 10, he probably won’t make it home in time. If he actually does, apologize to the sitter & give her some gas money. Done. Now go out and have a fun time.

Lie #4: I promise life will get better when I’m done with residency/fellowship.

Truth: Don’t expect much. Yes, our salary will increase but my schedule won’t change a whole lot.

Helpful Hint: That is pretty much the truth. The increase in salary has been a HUGE burden lifted. But my husband hasn’t had a weekend off since September. He left the house this morning at 4:30a.m. and I’m not exactly sure when he’ll be home tonight. Set the bar low, my friends…set the bar really low.

truth lie

It took me a few years (and countless tears) to recognize these patterns. But when I was finally able to figure out what my husband was actually trying to say, I realized he made those promises with good (or maybe even guilt-driven) intentions.

He WANTED those things to be true. He wanted to leave in 20 minutes. He wanted to be home with the kids. He wanted to be there on their 1st day of school or for Dads & Donuts Day. And he wanted life after training to be dramatically different.

And now a little confession for the ladies:


Lie: This is too much. It’s not fair. I didn’t sign up for this. 

Truth: For better or for worse…For richer or for poorer <– You had no idea, right?! I don’t think any of us can ever understand what we are walking into when we said we’d marry a guy who is on the medical path. Even if someone tries to explain it, it’s not something you can truly understand until you live it…which makes it a very lonely place to be sometimes. You two are in this together. It takes a special woman to walk the path you are on. You’re guy loves you (even if he falls asleep mid-sentence) and he’s lucky to have you. You can do this.

Helpful Hint: So this is the hard part being married to one of these guys: You have to learn how to extend grace and forgiveness time after time after time. Because you will be disappointed. A lot. And if you don’t learn to forgive (or aren’t willing to), anger and bitterness will take root. It will find you in the dark and lonely places and feed you more lies. And that, my sweet friend, is the truth.

And I know that’s the truth…. because it happened to me.

…Or at least that’s what my therapy bill is telling me…

Posted in Marriage, Medical Life | Tagged , , | 27 Comments

In The Closet For A Good Cause

I decided that a way to make my 31 day blogging thing a little easier (cause you know I’m all about doing the least amount required), I would take a daily picture of what I’m wearing.

Side note: Did you know that this is called a “selfie”? Yes, the whole taking-a-picture-of-yourself thing. It’s called a selfie. Which, first of all, I think is the dumbest word ever and second, I want you to know that I do not enjoy doing this. I’d rather look like an idiot with my morning bedhead than take a for reals picture of myself and what I’m wearing. But it’s for a good cause, so I’ll suck it up.

Anyway, the reason I’m going to take these daily pictures…or “selfies” is so:

  1. You’ll see what “conscience” clothes I currently own.
  2. You will learn about the companies & non-profits I am “wearing” that day.
  3. You’ll realize that everything else I own I got at Target, Old Navy, or Costco
  4. You will see how often I wear the exact same thing.
  5. Like 4 or 5 days in a row.
  6. I might start to gross you out.
  7. Sorry.
  8. You will see that even though I hardly have anything in my closet, it is still messy.
  9. And like it or not, you will see my shining (or shiny) face every. single. day.
  10. That’s all.

So let’s get to it…

aWEARness Project Daily Selfie - Day 1

aWEARness Project Daily Selfie – Day 1
I like how I’m acting all cool and model-ish with my hand just hanging in the pocket.

The necklace is from Beautiful & Beloved. My friend, Amber, (great name, right?) opened up an this online boutique that carries products made from survivors of human trafficking. You can find jewelry, clothes, purses, scarves, and my favorite Elephanta Necklace.

The tank top is from Sevenly the week it supported Feed My Starving Children. Sevenly is a company who raise funds each week for a different non-profit. They do this by designing a custom graphic for that cause and sell different shirts, tanks, sweatshirts with that custom design for the next 7 days. So if you don’t buy it that week, it’s forever gone. $7 of every item sold, goes to the charity of that week. Pretty cool, right? ?

Everything else on me is from Target and Costco. See? I wasn’t kidding.

And that tank top? Yeah, this is the 4th day in a row I’ve been in it.

Well that was fun. Stay tuned for tomorrows outfit…

(spoiler alert: it probably won’t be much different.)

ap 31

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Posted in 31 Days, aWEARness Project, Unconventional Life | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment